Sediment Contamination

Satisfactory Essays
Sediments are formed from fine-grained waste material due to erosion from the mine site. It often contains dissolved metals as a result of the mining processes containing some toxic constituents such as lead and high levels of mercury. During severe storm events and high snowmelt periods, erosion transports a significant amount of sediments and chemicals pollutants into locals streams. Dissolved metals often settle under the stream bed and cause decreases in macroinvertebrate and benthic invertebrate populations. Metal accumulation in aquatic organisms, particularly benthic species, can also lead to acute and chronic toxicity to aquatic life [EPA 35]. In addition, research has shown a correlation between an increase in suspended solids with a decrease in density of macroinvertebrate and benthic invertebrate populations. High turbidity can also reduce passages of light and prevent photosynthetic activity of aquatic plants [EPA 34-35]. Aquatic plants are a major food source for macroinvertebrates and benthic invertebrates. The reduction of plants can stimulate further declines in aquatic life populations.…show more content…
Metals that settle in the stream bed can be transported by bioaccumulation. If contaminated fish is consumed, metals may be transferred to humans and impact their physical health. Human are exposed to the toxic metals by drinking water contaminated by sediments [EPA 35]. In addition to potential impacts on human and aquatic life, sedimentation can also physically impact the hydraulic system. Physical impact associated with mining includes the filling of deep pools that can result in the loss of habitat and temperature increases [EPA 35]. Excess sediment can build up behind dams and raise reservoir water levels. In addition to this, sedimentation can also cause the channel to widen and become shallower. Thus, increasing the frequency of overbank flow [EPA
Get Access